Building websites to perform well on old slow networks is a tough sell. I know because I have been barking up that tree for over a year on every site I’ve built. No matter how I’ve tried to make my case, account leads, creatives, and clients seem to see slow networks as something that only exists in places with names they can’t pronounce. What they don’t realize (hell, what I didn’t even realize) is that slow networks can be as close as the nearest farm town.
Let’s freaking save blogging—specifically, let’s save it from the platform that’s trying to grow massive off your words and thoughts. It deserves to live, and it does not deserve to be controlled by a company that doesn’t understand that there’s value to your words.
I stumbled across this great article today after reading another great article on the same blog, Tedium.co. Author, Ernie Smith, perfectly captures all the reasons why it’s important for blogging to not die.
I heard the same sort of battle cry from Jeffrey Zeldman this year at An Event Apart: Chicago, and I have been trying to write as much as I can on this site ever since. It hasn’t always been easy, or anything close to perfect, but it does scratch a creative itch. If you had a blog and abandoned it, or are just done with the social media giants changing what you can and cannot post on their services — give this article a read. It’s easier and more important than you might realize to have your own little corner of the internet where you are free to post whatever the hell you want.
This is a parking garage entrance in downtown Fort Wayne Indiana. I was sitting across the street from it at a coffee shop (Fortezza, if you’re in the area) and watched driver after driver repeat the same exasperated scenario. Each would-be customer would pull in cautiously; pause for about 15 seconds; and then, awkwardly, try to back out. After the fifth or sixth person did this, I looked closer at the parking garage and saw there was a UX lesson here.
When I started out in this business back in ’98 the coolest shit laying around the creative department where I worked were always the paper sample books, posters, and swag from the French Paper Company designed by CSA Design. With their use of mid-century patterns, vintage iconography, and exotic printing techniques, they looked like nothing else coming from the paper mills at the time. Over the years I amassed a decent little collection. And you better believe that on any project I could, I spec’d French Paper.
Another year has passed and I am back in Chicago attending An Event Apart. I was apprehensive about attending this year because of a lot of things going on personally and professionally for me. But here I am, donut fueled, back in the front row soaking up the knowledge.
“A design leader finds where poor design is costing the organization money and pain. […] When the boss comes to ask, the design leader will be ready with answers for them.” — Jared Spool
Another excellent read from Jared Spool. How do you make yourself valuable as a designer to your boss? Stop assuming they will instinctively see the ROI. Show them how good design saves them money.
They don’t teach you this deeper level of design leadership in art school. If I had known this fifteen years ago, I probably wouldn’t have thrown in the towel and changed jobs as often as I had. Those of us who understand good design need to take it upon ourselves to explain it to the people who are buried in the day-to-day slog of running the business.
Read the article: Yes, Alan, There Is An ROI For UX Design
“You don’t have to have any coding skills. You just have to have a heart to decide enough is enough. Get out your Magic Marker and your signboard and your broomstick. And go out on the streets.” — Tim Berners-Lee A great interview of Tim Berners-Lee on Vanity Fair. I’ve had an on-again/off-again relationship with the open web. This article makes me want to get more serious about it. I had a general understanding of level at which the big tech companies were collecting data. Now I can see that it’s much worse than I realized. We deserve a better web, a decentralized web were we are in control of our data and not beholding to large corporations.
To Berners-Lee’s quote, one of the things any of us can do is to educate those who use the web casually (e.g., our aunts & uncles, moms & dads, and spouses) about what is being stolen from them and how it’s being used. When the general population of the web begins to more completely understand the issue, that’s when the change will really begin to happen.
Read the article: “I Was Devastated”
I have been noticing more and more how much bad, bland, and otherwise forgettable writing is running rampant on the web. So much emphasis has been on breaking out of the boring layout rut we are in that boilerplate copy crept in there and created a whole new mess.
This past week I was asked to write down what makes a good website. In other words, what makes the sites I build better than the ones a non-professional could make on their own with an online service like Wix, SquareSpace, or WordPress.com. I’ve had this list of ideas in my head forever, but until now I’ve never written them down. Doing so has given them even more importance in the work I do. They guide the decisions I make. Coming up with metaphors to make some complex, and seemingly unnecessary, parts of web design more accessible has given me more confidence to explain why they are important to clients in language they can understand.
You make the time to do what you want to do. That gets back to the other thing that I say all the time, which is busy is a decision. If you say, “I’m to busy to make self-generated work, or to make work that I feel is different, or attempts to be original in some way,” then it’s just not a priority. It’s just not something you really, really, really want to do. Because, we somehow find the time to watch Game of Thrones, or House of Cards, or Homeland, or whatever it is. If we have time to binge watch a TV show, or spend three hours last night watching the Grammys, you have time to make work.
I recently listened to that Overtime Podcast interview with Debbie Millman. In it, she had that great quote up there that I absolutely love because she basically described me and my work habits to a “T”. The only thing that would have put this quote closer to the bullseye would be to replace Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland with Seinfeld, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Bob’s Burgers.